Image for post
Image for post

Next-Generation Insight: An Interview with Candice Mudrick, Head of Market Analysis at Newzoo

A different perspective on gaming careers and next-gen consoles

Bryan Finck
Aug 25, 2020 · 6 min read

Last month, Gamesindustry.biz conducted a live stream summit of experts from around the gaming industry, focusing on the effects of COVID-19, what gaming looks like around the globe, and what the future holds. One of the presenters was Candice Mudrick, Head of Market Analysis at Newzoo, a leading site/platform for games industry market data and insights. Candice graciously agreed to interview with us as a follow-up on the topics she presented in her talk. The result is a fascinating look at how there’s more than one way to have a “gaming” career, and what the near future holds for next-gen consoles and gaming at large. We hope you enjoy it!

Note: Due to the vagaries of scheduling, a few weeks passed between submitting the questions and the completion of the interview, during which time both Microsoft and Sony reaffirmed plans to release their next-gen consoles in 2020.

SUPERJUMP
Good morning Candice, thank you for joining us for this interview! I have to ask first, are you a gamer? If so, what games have been getting you through the pandemic, and what upcoming titles are you most anticipating?

CANDICE
Naturally, I’m a lifelong gamer! Right now I’ve been loving Paper Mario: The Origami King, and during lockdown I clocked many hours on Animal Crossing: New Horizons in addition to spending time on several mobile titles including Archero. As for upcoming titles, there are too many to name but Cyberpunk 2077 is up there as well as Baldur’s Gate III.

SUPERJUMP
So many of the SUPERJUMP authors and readers are in the games industry or want to get into it, but the focus is typically on development. People don’t necessarily realize that there are a lot of ways to have a career in the gaming industry without being in development. Can you share what your path was like in becoming the Head of Market Analysis for Newzoo?

CANDICE
I think there’s no “one right way” to enter games. When I was young, I thought I wanted to “make video games” but after a summer school course in 3D animation, I realized that I didn’t want to do that at all. It put me off the idea of working in the games industry for a bit, but like you said, there are so many other ways to have a career outside of development, which I only discovered later on.

I’ve always been a computer geek, so I did my bachelor’s in electrical engineering and then worked in program management for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon GPU team for several years before deciding to pursue my MBA. During the course of the program, I became more certain that I wanted to pursue gaming but in a business context. I was lucky to work on a short project with a VR startup in London (Dream Reality Interactive) and then spend my MBA summer with Blizzard Entertainment in business operations for StarCraft II / Heroes of the Storm. I had discovered Newzoo during my time at Blizzard and knew that I wanted to work there. There wasn’t a job opening, but I sent an email to them telling them why they should hire me, more or less. Thankfully Peter (our CEO) took a chance on me!

SUPERJUMP
Following up on that, can you tell us a bit of what a typical workday is like for you?

CANDICE
The market analysis team wears many hats, but key responsibilities include delivering our flagship market forecasts/reports, scoping and executing custom/consulting projects, advising our clients, and driving our games thought leadership forward.

Here’s what a typical day looks like for me: Review the latest report forecast, scope a new project to guide a brand’s gaming strategy, respond to a press inquiry about Apple vs Epic, explore the Newzoo Platform for new insights, join a call with clients or potential data partners.

SUPERJUMP
Ah yes, Epic vs. the world, or so it seems. Given that this is now part of your daily routine, could you give us your take on what the resolution of this fight may look like?

CANDICE
Microsoft just now filed a statement to support Epic’s request to retain access to the Apple SDK for Unreal Engine, though avoided commenting on the larger antitrust case (Microsoft also has a 30% platform fee).

I’ll leave the legal analysis to the legal experts, but the case has the potential to shake up much more than just the games industry depending on the outcome. We might see new business models popularized (beyond a flat 30% fee) as a result of this.

SUPERJUMP
A good bit of your presentation was about the next-gen console release, so I wanted to dig into that a bit more. Based on both Microsoft and Sony’s reticence to give price and release date information, do you think a delay of the launch into 2021 is possible? Or would it behoove them to get the systems out in the wild sooner rather than later?

CANDICE
Both Microsoft and Sony have confirmed that the hardware will launch this year, with Sony reiterating confirmation a few days ago. However, it’s the games themselves that are seeing delays, such as Halo: Infinite on Xbox Series X and Deathloop on PS5.

PlayStation 5. Source: Sony.

SUPERJUMP
Fans and industry watchers always talk about who will “win” each console generation. What do you think winning would look like to Microsoft and Sony this time around? Will Microsoft be happy only selling, say, 20 million Series X units if they also have 20 million Game Pass Subscribers? Does Sony need to sell 75+ million PS5’s to be happy with their efforts?

CANDICE
I think the idea of a console war for this generation is less relevant. The landmark partnership between the two companies last year indicates that they no longer view each other as existential threats. Microsoft is more in direct competition with Google or Amazon than it is with Sony, at a company level. Given that they are the cloud technology partner for Sony, Microsoft will be a winner either way, and their ecosystem-first approach implies that Xbox accounts (rather than only hardware sales) are the key metric. So, “winning” in the long term is not just about hardware but about the users in your ecosystem, and being a user in one ecosystem doesn’t exclude you from the others. There are plenty who might buy a PS5 but also keep a Game Pass subscription.

SUPERJUMP
With Microsoft going all-in on the idea of getting people to play their games no matter where they are, do you think we will ever see Game Pass on PlayStation consoles? Phil Spencer threw water on that idea last week after seeming open to it previously, but how long can they ignore that pile of cash?

CANDICE
Platform agnosticism is a growing trend, but I’d listen to Phil Spencer if he says it’s not happening. One thing I’ll say here is that it’s actually Sony who has been the slowest to the cross-play party.

SUPERJUMP
Your presentation talked a lot about COVID accelerating the trend to adopt cloud gaming and subscription services due to their lower price point and value proposition. Faced with that reality, and the popularity of Game Pass, do you think Sony will make any adjustments to the PS Now service in order to compete? Maybe bundling it with PS Plus, or bringing new titles to the service more quickly?

CANDICE
Despite early investment in-game streaming technology, Sony has taken a more conservative approach with it, prioritizing hardware up until recently. This is shifting, signaled by last year’s price drop and added content, and more changes are rumored to be around the corner. With a few key additions (including what you mentioned, adding new titles more quickly) their offering could become very compelling.

SUPERJUMP
There has been much speculation about the future of physical game sales, as opposed to the digital download model. With Sony releasing data this week that shows the immense success of the PS Store, do you foresee a future where Sony or Microsoft go completely digital? Or if they did continue to make physical copies, could they just distribute through Amazon and bypass store shelves completely?

CANDICE
The future of games content is largely digital, as we’ve seen with music, movies, books, etc.

SUPERJUMP
We’d like to thank Candice for the fantastic insights and for making time to give us her expert opinions. We are looking forward to catching up with her after the release of the next-gen consoles.

SUPERJUMP

Celebrating video games and their creators

Bryan Finck

Written by

A thought isn’t an idea until you write it down and share it with the world. So I write thoughts about video games, and a few other things. Twitter: @htb390

SUPERJUMP

SUPERJUMP

Celebrating video games and their creators

Bryan Finck

Written by

A thought isn’t an idea until you write it down and share it with the world. So I write thoughts about video games, and a few other things. Twitter: @htb390

SUPERJUMP

SUPERJUMP

Celebrating video games and their creators

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store